We are born to move. The brain is at is most optimal state when it is engaged in complex movement, and our mind and emotions have an outlet in which to express ourselves through the body. The ability to move freely, dance, and perform according to our promptings is one of the most wonderful gifts we can offer ourselves: we are empowered, courageous, explorers, performers, and realisers.
Over the next five weeks, we’re going to look at each of these factors in more detail, examining how all of us can incorporate empowerment, courage, exploration, performance, and realisation both on and off the stage.
Have you ever been on the bus listening to a great song and imagined how you’d move to the beat? Pirouetting, gliding, waving, and rolling – you’re moving with such grace that you know no boundaries, you’re empowered by you’re limitlessness. Empowerment is defined as the ability to make something stronger, and it is a very personal journey. Sure, teachers can help us on the path to empowerment, but it is only from the inside that we can become empowered.
Making ‘something’ stronger
What is this something we seek to make stronger? How can performing arts which is so wrapped up with critique and judgment activate empowerment? We look to strengthen both the inside and outside without seeking approval from others. Popular thought goes along the lines of “Boys are strong, girls are flexible”, an erroneous belief that keeps us within the constrains of prevailing opinions, but if empowerment is to rise within, it’s important to distinguish whether we are simply conforming or being true to who we are.
Even in the deeply traditional world of classical ballet can one break down dogmatic walls. Take Misty Copeland who only started ballet at 13, was rejected by a number of schools, but went on to become the first black female soloist at the American Ballet Theatre. Through dance she found her inner/outer strength, and used this limitless power to succeed. Misty realised that she wasn’t what people thought of her, but was whatever she wished to be.
Through the body we can build our resilience to such limiting opinions for if we feel physically strong, we are more likely to express this mentally. Engaging regularly in movement that fosters strength is a surefire way to activate empowerment, and while at first the muscles may whimper and we may feel clumsy or weak, with regular practise we’ll achieve our goals and much more. Through physical perseverance, our self-limiting thoughts of what we can and can’t do are diminished, and we realise it is only ourselves that prevents us from being who we are.
At that moment we are empowered.
Some practical tips for empowerment include:
Find a movement you find difficult to do and practice it every day for 10 minutes
Do downward facing dog for 10 breaths
With a friend, discuss the role of what it is to be a girl and notice any stereotypes
Observe negative thoughts, and remind yourself you are not what you think
Tell yourself each day five things you are grateful for with at least three of these including yourself
Soundtrack for empowerment:
Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen